Category Archives: Anatomy, physiology and aging

Muscle tension

Have you noticed that we use the same words for “good” muscle tension and “bad” muscle tension? What’s the difference?

Here are two types of muscle tension:


1) A muscle has to generate tension to exert force at a joint. This may or may not result in observable movement. This is what we do when we are trying to strengthen or contract a muscle. This type of muscle contractions could be concentric (muscle actively shortens), eccentric (muscle actively lengthens against a load or gravity) or it could be isometric (muscle length is unchanged during a contraction).

2) A muscle that “should” be at rest but is still generating tension and/or movement. This may be the type associated with mental stress. Areas where we may feel this “tension” is the neck, jaw, hands, chest and abdomen. It really could be any muscle. We may tighten the muscles in these areas inadvertently in response to stress.

Either way you look at it, muscle tension is created through muscle contractions, voluntary or involuntary, done consciously or unconsciously.

So why should you care?

Because we have control over both types of tension, even the one that seems to be more “unconscious”. And one of the best ways to learn how to “release” or “exert” muscle tension is through exercise. Exercise helps us to increase our kinesthetic awareness. More simply, exercise can help us feel and understand our bodies better, and become more adept at modifying muscle tension according to our needs.

Even better, if our focus is to “release” tension, there is a reciprocal inhibition of one muscle over another with every muscle contraction. This means, if I want to release tension in my tricep (located on the back of my upper arm) then one way to do this is contract the opposing muscle (bicep) on the front of the arm.

Do you want your muscles to get stronger to improve function or do you need to release and learn how to “let go”?

Probably a bit of both. So why not move with intention at least once daily? This could be a walk, an exercise video, an exercise class virtually or in person, a personal training session, swimming, or multitude of other physical activities. Start with what is familiar and preferably at least mildly enjoyable. Buddy up with someone who is looking to do the same thing.

When you exercise regularly or intentionally move on a consistent basis, you will slowly learn more about your body and how it feels after certain activities. You will become better at determining when a muscle is “on” for the purpose of strengthening, or if it is “on” because of habits that have connected our mind’s stress to a physical response in our body.

If you would like to learn more about your body through movement, Essentrics is a great place to start. Essentrics uses all types of muscle contractions and will help you zone in on areas where you need to release. Check out my page Essentrics with Andrea or check out Essentrics.com for more information.

Let’s MOVE!!



Exercise evolution update and VO2 testing

Here is my most recent exercise evolution update and VO2 testing. I haven’t tested myself for many years and I was curious to see if my exercise evolution to date has been sufficient to maintain my cardiovascular fitness.

In short, VO2 is a measure of your cardiovascular fitness. The better your VO2, the more physical activity you can do on any given day, and in terms of longevity, the more you move now will have a significant impact on what you can do as the years progress. 

I assessed my VO2 because I do not do a lot of extended “cardio” sessions. As you will see, my “cardio” efforts are not at a high level, but instead a multitude of moderate physical activities and modest durations. In addition, given my age, there is an anticipated decline every decade in your aerobic capacity starting in your 30’s or 40’s. I plan to be a “mover” for the rest of my life, so having a good aerobic capacity is essential in maintaining an active lifestyle.

The CSEP 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for adults 18 to 64 years, and adults 65+ include the following recommendations when it comes to physical activity:
  • Moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activities such that there is an accumulation of at least 150 minutes per week 
  • Muscle strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week
  • Several hours of light physical activities, including standing
  • For adults 65+ it was recommended to include balance activities
Here is my exercise evolution update

I have included updated values on time spent at a moderate intensity on a weekly basis (MT) in each activity. Want know what moderate intensity is? See my next blog here for further details on how it was calculated.

Daily walks: 25 minutes each, 8-10 times/week. I am probably moving at a light to moderate pace……no, not really. When tested, I do not reach moderate intensity levels. MT=0

Treadmill jogging: 1 mile @ 5.3 mph 3-4 times/week. MT=40

Hip and knee strengthening plus stretching, abs: 20 minutes 2-3 times/week. Moderate level 12 minutes x 3. MT=36

Essentrics: group exercise class (instructor) one hour 2 times/week: Moderate level 30% of the time MT=40

HIIT style online class: Once weekly moderate level 20 out of 60 minutes. MT=20

Stairs: 3 flights up/down at least once daily(30 sec each). MT=0

Standing: I stand frequently. Sitting much more that an hour at a time gets me fidgeting.

Total time weekly at moderate level or more=136.

I am a little embarrassed in that when I originally wrote this, I estimated 311 minutes/week. I was way off. But good to keep it real and know where there is room for improvement.

VO2 testing and results

I used the Modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test (mCAFT). It involves stepping up and down 2 steps(and sometimes one large step if you make it to the final stage), at progressively faster cadences. You calculate your heart rate max and then work through the progressive stages until you reach 85% of your maximum heart rate. Each stage is associated with an oxygen cost. Based on the stage you reach for your age group, you take the oxygen cost and input that into an equation that will give you your aerobic capacity result (VO2).

Well, I did well. I did not make it to the final stage. My perceived exertion by the end was approximately 17 out of 20. Part of the protocol is to check your blood pressure during recovery, which gratefully was better than expected.

So my result was 45 ml/kg-1/min-1 . My health benefit rating was excellent for my age range(50-59) and could be found in the excellent range for 30-39 year old’s. If I had made it to the last stage, my VO2 would have calculated to be 49 ml/kg-1/min-1. I would have then been in the Excellent 15-19 year old group. I will have to look into who the study sample was and how this came to be. In the meantime, I love finding out new info about myself that I can then re-assess at a later date for comparison. There are also other test protocols that I may try at a future date.

Until then, check out my Essentrics with Andrea page if you are thinking about being more active.

Alternatively, you can look at the structure of my current exercise evolution update and substitute your own activities that you currently engage in. You may be surprised as to how much you are doing for yourself.

Lastly, here is one more post on Keeping it real: physical fitness and VO2max. Movement no matter how small still rocks! Are you ready? Let’s GO!

Exercise specificity: What do you need?

When it comes to exercise specificity, start by asking yourself: “What do I want” from my exercise program? Do you want better posture, to be more flexible, to decrease stress levels or improve heart and lung fitness? If you are not sure where to start, and feel there are too many options to choose from, you may want to consult with an exercise specialist to guide you on the path of specificity.

If you can identify activities or tasks that you would like to be able to accomplish or do better, this will help you and your specialist to figure out what will give you the results you want. Exercise may not be the answer to all of your problems, but it is one of the few modalities whose benefits go beyond just physical fitness. “I just want to get fit” is a great goal, but knowing what you mean by getting fit will help you to define and ultimately refine your exercise goals.

Strength,

Endurance,

Cardiovascular fitness,

Joint mobility,

Flexibility, …

What do you want? What do you need?

If you know what your end goal (or intermediate goal), it may fall under one or all of the categories listed above.

Here are examples of what each category represents:

Strength: You want to be able to do a push up. You think it would be great if you could do 10 regular push ups.

Endurance: To be able to stand in the kitchen and bake for 2 hours without pain and without feeling exhausted

Cardiovascular fitness: You want to be able to jog a mile and and be able to breathe at the same time

Joint mobility: Making kneeling for short periods of prayer possible

Flexibility: You want to be able to touch your toes from standing

It’s never too late to try something new

Here are examples of what I do for myself to address the above categories:

Strength: lower body “slider’ lunge series as well as lower body weight training.

Endurance: daily walks to and from work. Continuous non stop workouts like circuits or interval training.

Cardiovascular fitness: steady state running on treadmill or outdoors. Alternate stationary cycling. Interval training is also an option here too.

Joint mobility: ankle mobility exercise using a step

Flexibility: Essentrics is an exercise program where I am able to perform many combined movements and sequences which can address flexibility along muscular or fascial “chains”.

Simplifying exercise specificity

Here is an example to pull it all together.

GOAL:

You are recovering from knee replacement surgery. You are 3 months out. In another 3 months time is your grand daughter’s wedding and you want to be an integral part of the ceremony and reception. Standing and walking for several hours at a time is likely. Navigating on uneven ground is a given (it’s an outdoor ceremony on grass). You will be helping with the organization of the reception, which require you to climb a small set of stairs numerous times. You may need to carry some lighter items like wine bottles, if the server runs out.

CURRENT STATUS:

You have already been climbing stairs daily but only once or twice as needed. You still need the railing and sometimes need to use a cane as well. Twice weekly you go out for a walk with your friend Pat. Pat’s pace makes you move a little faster than you would on your own, for approximately 45 minutes. You usually take 2 canes to help you keep up. You don’t spend much time on grass.

PLAN:

Based on this description, you would probably need your exercise routine to focus on lower body endurance for standing, walking and stairs. You likely will have some strength gains to be made, to improve your stair performance and ability to walk safely without support (especially if you need to carry a bottle or two). The other focus may be cardiovascular fitness, so you can last the entire day without feeling significantly tired. This will be important as the wedding day progresses, as your risk of falls on grass is higher than it would be on level surfaces. Your ability to make good choices and move with care will be affected by your energy levels. Check out Keeping it real: Physical fitness and VO2max for more on cardiovascular fitness.

Exercise specificity

So as you can see, there could be many layers to “getting fit” so finding what is specifically important to you will make both the the work of exercise and the gains made from exercise that much more meaningful. And remember, any daily intentional physical activity, like your walks with Pat, will be part of your plan. Take all the help you can get, and start making the changes that will truly have an impact how you live and feel. It’s worth it. So let’s GO!

Essentrics with Andrea

Are you evolving as an exerciser?

Do you exercise the same way you did 10, 20 or 30 years ago? Has your program evolved into something new? Maybe your program is constantly changing. Maybe your daily physical activity level has taken a steep dive. Maybe you are not even sure what you are capable of doing anymore. Check out the exercise and physical activity spectrum below to assess where you are now and where you would like to go.

Where are you on the exercise and physical activity spectrum?

Option 1A: You have never exercised or paid any attention to physical fitness.

Option 1: You no longer exercise but used to be quite active and competent in your physical abilities. Now you are not sure where you are in your fitness level and you are not sure where to start.

Option 2: You exercise sporadically, in bouts. You get really good at getting started but within a short time things peter out or you hurt yourself.

Option 3: You don’t engage in formal exercise but challenge yourself with the occasional or regular walk, hike or other outdoor activity. The intensity level is more than a stroll in the park.

Option 4: You exercise or move regularly, but switch things up often. You are flexible with the activity you do, and have a lot of options to choose from depending on the day and how you feel. You may work with a trainer that likes to switch things up on you.

Option 5: You exercise regularly and are doing pretty well at what you have always done. You are a clock that doesn’t stop ticking. You are routine to the core.

Things to consider depending on where you are on the spectrum of exercise and physical activity:

Wherever you are on the spectrum, the most important thing is that you decide that you are going to move. Sedentary activities often dominate our current lifestyles and even more so now.

Exercise and physical activity affects the health of not just our cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. Metabolism, digestion, hormones, cognition and emotional health can all be impacted by a lack of movement in our daily lives.

Exercise programs that evolve according to your needs will more likely be meaningful and sustainable. If we do the exact same thing everyday, depending on the intensity, the cumulative stress to our bodies’ may result in a breaking down of systems versus the growth and maintenance that keep us functioning at our best.

Here’s my routine this week:

HIIT running plus stretches 2X

Knee and shoulder rehab 2X

Essentrics(stretch and strengthen no weight) 2X

High rep full body muscle endurance exercise class 1X

Moderate paced walk 2 times daily for 25 minutes to and from work

Ask me in 6 weeks and it will likely have evolved into something different. Actually, let’s commit to that and I will let you know.

Whatever your relationship is to physical activity, remain open minded as to what is and isn’t working for you. This way you will increase your success at keeping things going on a regular daily basis.

Stay tuned for ways to evaluate and evolve your current program.

Think NEAT(non-exercise activity thermogenesis)

Think DIPA (daily intentional physical activity)

Think EXERCISE

Think MOVEMENT

Then DO!

Essentrics with Andrea

Keeping it real: Physical fitness and VO2 max

I was a runner back in high school. Mostly distance. But even as a youth it was easy to delude myself on my level of physical fitness. I remember running a cross country race where I had barely trained for it. We did not have a coach that year so we had to train ourselves as a group. Despite having run cross-country ever since I was 9 years old, I “forgot” what it took to be competitive. Without the external driving force(our coach) it was very hard to max out with speed drills and progressive endurance training. I had just finished a summer of partying and eating McDonald’s regularly so the extra weight and new outlook on life didn’t help things.

I had ran the exact same race several times in the past. I recall watching other races with runners who were falling behind shortly after the initial 3/4 sprint start. I remember the winded looks and trudging bodies that looked like they may collapse at any minute. I never imagined myself in their shoes. I would say to myself, “well at least they were trying.”

Obviously, I spoke too soon. I joined my new cohorts with a vengeance. I didn’t just stop at placing poorer than I ever had. I came in last. No joke. People on the sidelines cheered me on, “Come on West Hill!”. In the moment, I wanted to tell them to go fly a kite. It was extremely difficult not to walk off the course and cry in the bushes because of the level of humiliation that I felt. If I hadn’t heard those few words of encouragement I probably would have.

The real problem was that I already knew the method to the madness. My physical capacity for running was seriously depleted and I found out the hard way. It wouldn’t be the last time, but delusional moments following that episode were not nearly as extreme. I was learning, slowly.

VO2 max and muscle endurance.

We use the word fitness as a descriptor of our physical health. It is a general term and may encompasses many different components. The one measurement of our fitness that relates to our capacity to carry out our daily activities is our VO2 max. It is a measure of our heart, lung and circulatory fitness, in others words, our cardiovascular fitness. More specifically, it is the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise. Its the critical one that if reduced to a level that is too low, we won’t be able to produce the energy required to get out of bed.

Now let’s take it up (or down) another level. You used to manage the 2 flights of stairs at your workplace but you discontinued that activity because you were working from home. Then you were forced to take the stairs one day and you are stunned by your body’s response. Your head feels dizzy because the level oxygen to your brain has been impacted. Maybe your blood pressure has shot up secondary to your heart’s attempt to supply your body with more oxygen. Your heart is racing and you are out of breath.

You may still have the basic mechanical capacity to do the stairs(i.e. enough strength and joint mobility) but you don’t have the muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness to support the “sustained” activity.

How to improve your heart and lung fitness.

The best thing about cardiovascular fitness or VO2 max is that it can be improved through physical activity. If you have cardiovascular disease then you may need more guidance but everyone can benefit and make gains.

You need to do something that is beyond your normal level of exertion. You can usually tell if you are accomplishing that by your heart rate and respiratory rate. Of course, if you are seriously deconditioned or have any medical issues you may need to consult with a health professional. If you don’t know, get some help.

Moral of the story

Coming in last was not the worse thing in the world. But I sure felt like crap in more ways than one. It’s so much easier to maintain fitness with a sustainable daily commitment to exercise and/or intentional physical activities that challenge you. If we do that little bit more, everyday, our bodies will adapt appropriately over time.

Figuratively, we need to keep climbing hills everyday to challenge the body to keep up. It naturally wants to decline, and with age, even more so. We need to continue moving towards a higher base camp, higher than the one where we left off. Without activity, we end up progressively going downhill to the lower base camp and eventually we find ourselves below sea level and not even sure how we got there.

Keeping it better than real

Keeping it real will allow you to continue to be able to do all the things you enjoy doing. Knowing that you could do more is even better. Stay in tune with your physical abilities and don’t let them slide. Stay up on the highest base camp possible. There’s no rush to get to the top but don’t inadvertently coast downhill and let the clutch out too soon. Apply the gas gently and progressively. You will be amazed where you can take yourself!

Alright now, let’s GO!

Essentrics with Andrea

Hips: Love em or leave em?

I love my hips. I’ve never had a bad relationship with them. I have never had any chronic pain as an adult. I do recollect deep groin pain as a youth in ballet class. In any case, I care about my hips and want to keep them in the best shape possible. Without their health, I know my life would be significantly impacted. I want to stay ahead and not get behind in their abilities.

My hips are not symmetrical. They move differently. I’ve gotten to know them well through years of dance and physical activity. They are twins but with unique personalities. I don’t love one more than the other. They have their individual strengths and relative weaknesses (credit: wise yoga instructor).

Lately, I have had some knee cap pain. While I am recovering from my knee dysfunction I have placed a special emphasis on knee and hip strengthening because they are kind of best friends. Can’t treat one without the other. They are intricately connected and when one suffers they tend to commiserate together. Maybe not overtly to the untrained eye. You have to look for it. And sometimes not.

Why hips are important

Back to our star pupil. The “biggest” joint in the body. Lost in the depths of the body but not forgotten. Buried in mystery and sometimes esoteric associations. We are obsessed with our “hips” for lack of a better term. It includes the hip joint proper(the ball and socket), housed in our pelvis and all of the musculature surrounding it. Together they act as a fulcrum connecting the upper and lower body folding us in half. Unilaterally, they balance our torso via the pelvis, allowing us to translate ourselves from point A to B.

When you think about what happens when we walk, its pretty complicated. The hips are a major component in the balancing act of walking, alternately suspending ourselves on one limb at a time, propelling ourselves forward, backward or side to side. Through our connection with the ground we generate forces that move our bodies in the direction we choose. We would have a very hard time doing this with out the health of our hips.

Taking the mystery out of hip pain and joint imbalances

What happens when the hip joint is unbalanced? The balance of the ball and socket and all of the muscles surrounding them, both deep and superficial, sometimes seems too complex to decipher. When the hips are unbalanced we may shift unintentionally in the wrong direction which then requires even more energy to redirect our momentum. We create alternate strategies that overtime may be even more detrimental to our posture and mechanics.

It’s a special joint that gets a lot of attention. Rightly so. When the hip is unwell there can be a chain effect upwards towards our spine and downwards towards the soles of our feet.

So given our apparent focus on our hips, why the mystery? There are several popular hip muscles that are frequently associated with having great importance. Just as frequently, these muscles are labelled as critical links that once uncovered will reveal the solutions to all of our problems. The ones that come to mind are psoas, gluteus medius and piriformis. Hamstrings and gluteus maximus? For some reason they don’t get the spotlight. I guess they are boring and too obvious. The reality is that we need every part of our hip musculature to work in optimal lengths with optimal strengths, and we need them to be in use on a daily basis.

When I am trying to figure out a hip problem, I look for the “gross” imbalances. Front versus back. Side versus inside. Deep fine tuners versus superficial power houses. Some groups of muscles become more dominant than the other because of habitual postures and repetitive activities. It could be that our exercise program is a little biased and doesn’t “round out” our hips’ basic needs.

The pelvic floor and hip joint stability

There are also hip joint muscles that are very closely associated with the pelvic floor. Dysfunction in one area may affect the other. Maybe we consider the hips to be so precious because of their proximity to our sexual organs. The hips’ close association with the back can also make the pain picture sometimes confusing.

But the hips are not fragile unless you have osteopenia or osteoporosis or another bony pathological condition. They are required to take on a significant load and when injured often require extensive retraining to restore the normal length and strength of the musculature. We often need to re-learn how to stabilize the pelvis on the femur via the hip joint. There are rarely any quick fixes involving a single muscle that will ultimately eliminate hip pain or restore ideal function.

Keeping our hips healthy.

Keeping our hips healthy should be a focal point of everyone’s day. And one simple way is too get off of your buttocks and stop sitting for prolonged periods. We have all heard about how our sedentary lifestyles which involve prolonged sitting have replaced cigarette smoking as a major lifestyle factor that is detrimental to our overall health.

A great suggestion is to get out if you chair every 20 minutes. Set a timer so you won’t forget. Stand up and straighten your hips. Get them out of that passive folded position. Take a short walk around your space. Walk forwards, backwards and sideways if you can. Tighten your glutes and remember that they should not feel anything like pancakes i.e. flat and soft.

So, love your hips. Don’t leave them unattended. Intend to keep them in shape and they will thank you by keeping you moving with ease and accuracy. Love thy hips as they are incredible and special joints. Keep things simple by giving them what they need on a regular basis. If you are not sure, find someone to help you figure it out. Don’t give up on them. They are worth the consistent time and the effort to keep them lubricated, flexible and strong.

Upward (from the chair)

and onward (propelling yourself through space)!

Let’s go!

Essentrics with Andrea

When exercise doesn’t feel good: 6 reasons why and how to overcome them

Sometimes exercise doesn’t feel good. If you are like me, I exercise for a release. But what happens when that release or elevated state after exercise doesn’t occur? What if it is just the opposite?

I recently did an online class with my favorite instructor.  But I will admit, I wasn’t feeling it.   Until we got to the side leg lifts.  More on that later.  Maybe it was because I had a kink in my neck that was distracting me, and a resolving shoulder tendinitis on the opposite side. I was in a bit of a funk. Probably even before I started. I left class on a neutral to grumpy note. I didn’t experience my usual lightness of being.  My focus was also a little scattered with concerns unrelated to the class.

Let’s start with the obvious:

1: Pain or injury. Sometimes we can manage to do what we like to do despite a little niggling irritation or pain. Sometimes after exercising that discomfort is gone. But sometimes its worse. If you are in the habit of feeling more pain after exercise, you are doing the wrong thing. Switch your intention to releasing versus tensing. Go “loosey goosey”(credit : Essentrics). Go through the range of motion without visiting the painful limits. This may be enough to nudge you back into balance.

The other thing is try something completely different. Give that unhappy area some relative rest. Do an activity that focuses on another area of the body (stationary cycling instead of upper body activities for a shoulder injury). Focus on ideal postures and positions for the area involved. If you can’t figure it out, consult with someone who should know how to approach injury and exercise.

The exercise itself may not be the reason for your pain. It could very well be how you spend your day (sitting, slouching?) that is the main contributing factor to your malaise. Start paying to attention to more of what hurts and what helps. This may inform you as to what activities may be beneficial and what is harmful.

2. Illness. if you are sick, you are sick. Some of us know when we are about to get sick. This is the time to back off so your body can focus its energy on your immune response. Taxing your body at this time is a bad idea. It doesn’t mean you can’t take a short walk, if you are truly up for it. You still need to move but bring it down several notches so nature can take its course, getting you better sooner than later.

3. Self criticism. Sometimes we enter into exercise with a less than positive attitude. Find the spaces where you know you have felt uplifted before. If you are just getting started, can you create or find an environment where you feel the desire to thrive? Where can you find some positive encouragement for your efforts? Try not to compare yourself to others, even if just for the next 20 minutes. Be present for your own benefit.

4. Over training / overexertion. This is again where the ego’s desires exceed the physical ability or capacity. Yes, you may have run a marathon, but the boot camp isn’t a run-a-thon, so take yourself through new activities with several ounces of caution. What’s the hurry? What’s the point of exercising beyond your tissues’ limits?

I like exercise that I can sustain everyday. I no longer want to train so I can barely walk the following day or two. It depends on what your goals are. If you are directing your efforts towards a specific goal, are you starting from a base level of fitness or are you starting from square one? A different approach will be required for each circumstance

Overtraining can lead to chemical imbalances that can can be more destructive than constructive (long term elevation of cortisol) , leaving you feeling lousy instead of energized.

5. Not enough fuel/water/sleep.

Fuel. We need food to maintain our basic human processes. If we are exercising, we need more. This doesn’t mean you should eat the McDonald’s cheeseburger because you ran for 1.5 hours. Look at what you eat and drink as your building blocks to success. Not eating enough to sustain your activities may result in increased cortisol levels and decreased recovery.

If you are pairing exercise with reduced food intake for weight loss, try not to be too extreme. Look for the nutrient dense food (aka healthy) so your body gets what it needs. Cut out the junk food. We can eat crappy food on occasion when we are fitness focused. But feeling dizzy during exercise because you haven’t eaten or drank enough shouldn’t be an option.

Water. I don’t derive a lot of pleasure from drinking water. I feel the same about eating green vegetables but at least my body recognizes that they are important and sometimes craves them. Water? I am rarely thirsty and hate the taste. I just know I need water. So I try to choke down a a cupful or two during exercise. I use a cup instead of a bottle for easier access.

Sleep. If you didn’t sleep at all the night before, should you be doing that morning routine? Sleep is a tough one if your are having trouble finding it. If you like to keep your exercise schedule regular, switch up your workout that day and try something calming or meditative. Maybe do a light stretching routine. Get in tune with yourself instead of maxing out that day.

6. You are too hot or too cold. This is very important but often overlooked. I am guilty of this, having noted my ability to overheat seems more likely than ever before. Peri-menopausal? We need to exercise at a temperature that allows us to cool off when needed, and to be warm enough to encourage soft tissue extensibility.

I am particularly sensitive when it comes to my feet and ankles. I think that I have beaten up my tender tootsies one too many times. The result is that I can’t function well with cold feet. It hurts. If it’s cold, dress warmly. Move around gently in anticipation of more complex movements later in the workout.

To summarize:

Getting on the fitness train isn’t as difficult as staying on the train. I think if you focus on the big picture, and keep reminding yourself that it is a constantly evolving process, you will have more reasonable expectations. You will judge yourself less if you don’t follow through on the exact prescription you created for yourself that day. Accept the reality that movement will result in a healthier and longer life. Daily small successes are way better than none at all.

If I am in pain, I need to modify. If I am sick, I have to take it easier. If I am sad, I have to give myself a mental break. If I am unrealistic, I have to redefine ground zero or reconsider what level of elevation I am aiming for. If I am too cold or hot, I bring on the layers or expose a little more skin.

All of these perceived barriers have answers. No need to struggle. Just be a little better than yesterday or just maintain your gains. You are in charge. Ask for help if you need it. You are stronger than you think (credit: favorite fitness instructor).

Essentrics with Andrea